The Avengers ‘62
Sound: C- Extras: C- Episodes: B-
Getting back to the early years of The Avengers,
A&E has issued the Avengers ’62 set when the show gained that
permanent name in the second season after the show debuted as Police Surgeon
with Ian Hendry as Dr. David Keel and Patrick Macnee as the mysterious figure
named Steed. An actor’s strike ended
the show and when the dispute was over, Hendry went on to feature films. Macnee stayed behind, Steed was developed
more into the character we know today and the search was on for a new partner.
Though the show finally settled on Honor Blackman as Ms.
Catherine Gale, Steed had three partners this first season and they all appear
in this new DVD set. Those other
partners were Jon Rollason as Dr. Martin King, meant to be like Dr. Keel to
some extent as well as NO RELATION to Tara King in the final seasons of
the show, and Julie Stevens as lounge singer Venus Smith. The episodes are as follows:
Mr. Teddy Bear (9/29/62) – Originally
featured on the Best Of The Original Avengers – Volume One set, the
title assassin does what he does for the right price, but a military target has
One-Ten (Douglas Muir) order Steed to get the killer with Cathy Gale’s help.
Propellant 23 (10/6/62) – The title
substance could power rockets in a way to win the Space Race and when a carrier
is killed, Steed and Cathy have to compete with other agents to retrieve the
prize. Nicholas Courtney, Geoffrey
Palmer and Catherine Woodville guest star.
The Decapod (10/13/62) – Steed and Venus
team up for the first time to protect a foreign visitor against
assassination. All is not as it
appears, of course. Philip Madoc guest
Bullseye (10/20/62) – In one of the
better shows thanks to director Peter Hammond, Steed and Cathy look into
illegal arms trading and murder. Judy
Parfitt guest stars.
Mission To Montreux
(10/27/62) – An interesting early entry with director Don Leaver, a young
actress has top-secret film from U.S, intelligence, so more than a few people
are ready to kill her for it. Patricia
English, Pamela Ann Davy, Iris Russell and Gerald Sim guest star.
The Removal Men (11/3/62) – Not so hot
Steed/Smith entry about murder for money gang that needs to be put out of
The Mauritius Penny
(11/10/62) – A priceless stamp is being sold under questionable circumstances
to fund a crazy take-over plot.
Death Of A Great Dane
(11/17/62) – Frederick Jaeger shows up in this show that was later remade as
the color Diana Rigg episode 50,000-Pound Breakfast as a courier is
killed in an accident is carrying a fortune in diamonds. They just happen to be in his stomach!
The Sell-Out (11/24/62) – A U.N. official is
nearly assassinated and Steed is ordered to investigate. With Martin King helping out, Steed decides
that the best way to protect the official is to impersonate him. Now if only Steed can avoid getting killed
the Rocks (12/1/62) – In a story unrelated to #8 above, another
dead body turns up and is connected to diamonds. This time, it is Cathy who impersonates someone, a Mrs. John
Steed! Too bad she gets abducted!
Zebra (12/8/62) – Is Steed’s old friend crane an enemy agent
leaking top-secret information to enemies?
He and Cathy are about to find out.
Thinker (12/15/62) – A supercomputer is being sabotaged and
turned on people in a fatal way. A
scientist is the first victim, serious enough for Cathy and Steed to
Dispatch (12/22/62) – Steed and Cathy go to Jamaica to find out
why British couriers are being picked off.
They do not understand what is worth killing for, because they cannot
find anything. Steed becomes the next
courier and the next target.
Course (12/29/62) – Martin King and Steed go to Ireland to
investigate a plane wreck. Some people
are missing, while the plane may have contained some valuable hidden cargo.
The show was starting to go into the action/Spy direction
it was really known for after the first season was a more straight-out
drama. Macnee was already recognizable
as the Steed we know and though not up to the later filmed shows, these
episodes have their moments and start to look better and better as compared to
“reality TV” and just the pure ambition of the show. It’s great to see the roots of a classic take shape and
The 1.33 X 1 image comes from old kinescope copies that
are lucky they survived from their original live broadcasts. The image is muddy as expected, though the
difference between this and a U.S. kinescope is that this is the early days of
the analog PAL format versus NTSC from the kinescopes of U.S. TV we see all the
time. The quality differences are
interesting. The Dolby Digital 2.0
Stereo is the best that could be done to boost the very old monophonic sound to
some kind of stereo, but there is one unfortunate catch. There are pops and clicks that have been
made louder right off the bat with Mr. Teddy Bear. It seems worse than the previous DVD set it
was issued on. Not only does digital
technology (like Criterion uses) to get rid of pops and clicks exist, but any
technical person who just listened in and timed each episode manually could
have simply cut those out.
Unfortunately, this was not done and you should be careful about playing
these too loud until you are familiar with each show.
The only extra are stills on each of the four DVDs,
standard for every release A&E has come up with so far, but commentaries
and interviews should have been considered.
As we look forward to the filmed shows surfacing in digital High
Definition form (the DVDs were transferred at 540i, while the new formats can
do 1080p and would work best if Studio Canal+ makes 4K HD masters) in a year or
two, this set and a bonus set to go with The Emma Peel MegaSet (reviewed
elsewhere on this site with other Avengers titles) sold separately and not
available to the press means the show is about as completely issued on DVD as
expected. Avengers ’63 and Avengers
’64 sets are the only one left due, which we hope to get to when issued.
- Nicholas Sheffo